Most of us already had harried lives with kids before the pandemic. Now we are parenting during a global crisis and suppose to do everything we were already doing plus homeschool – good grief literally. One day, when walking with my three wild little ones, I watched as a young mother attempted to conduct a professional call and navigate her toddler falling over and screaming. My heart went out to her as it’s obvious most of us end up doing neither work or parenting well.
You’d be normal to grieve not having kids out of the house Monday through Friday. Also most of us are not professional teachers and suddenly we have to figure out how to be both parent and teacher. Downscale your expectations if you want to maintain any sanity. Your kids won’t be learning to get into Harvard right now. Your laundry may have two piles; dirty and clean clothes your kids dig through to find outfits. Your meals won’t be gourmet and if you have peanut butter and bread you are good! If you are a perfectionist these changes may be driving you up a wall!
Some of my favorite home schooling resources are: readingbear.com, ixl.com (all grade level skills), iseesam.com (elementary level books), and storyline.com (famous people reading stories to your kids) and of course YouTube on any subject. Don’t get overwhelmed by what your school is sending. If all you are getting is a list of skills and feeling inadequate use online resources more. No matter how good you are – you cannot actually cook breakfast and supervise children learning at the same time.
Solutions and Tools
- Break skills into math, English, and real world exposure. Now is a perfect time to work on social skills, emotional development, and skills like cooking, gardening, or take nature walks and talk about plants and animals. Schools can’t teach these life skills as well as you can! Also make sure your kids get serious exercise every day or they will become house hurricanes.
- Ask your kids to help you a lot more. Use the crisis to teach them about microbiology, government, and health. Allow them to be part of your home team and to understand why you need their help. Let them know you cannot just be a provider of seamless services. Ask them to grow up a little during this time, dry dishes, clean house, or make food. You cannot do it all!
- Expect to fall short of your parenting ideals. Predict you will be more impatient, easily frustrated, yell, or need time outs (for you!) Expect you’ll wake up feeling you got this and before coffee see your parenting ambitions slip away. Set a lower bar for yourself and your kids. And when it gets really bad, and some days will, remember this too shall pass.
- Lean on your spouse or friends right now. You will need a safe place you can vent less than adoring thoughts about your children. You aren’t a bad parent if you are finding the never ending demands of parenting makes you cranky.
- In the middle of this chaos insist on moments you do something, anything for yourself. Might be part of a tv show, a hot bath, or a yummy treat. Yes, this moment may be a time where your diet is less than ideal. We are all in the middle of a quiet war grant yourself some grace as long as indulging does not become self-destructive.
Be as kind to yourself and your spouse right now as you would to anyone else in the middle of a crisis. Someday the kids will be back in school, some day you’ll get to see your co-workers, and some day soon you’ll see we are coming out of this crisis. I heard someone say once that you don’t know how strong you are until strong is the only option you have.
May you be well, may you be at peace, may you come out of this crisis better than you went in!